Never mind the cultural appropriation, here’s the latkes and kugel

We’re about halfway through Chanukah! This Friday is the last evening. I guess some Christians have taken to lighting menorahs, which is weird, especially if you already have an advent wreath to light. So I wrote 760 words about why it’s weird. Then I deleted them! Because I have a better idea: Let’s eat. 

Food is almost never appropriation. It’s just food, and it’s meant to be shared. Individual dishes are meant to be shared with other people at your table, and recipes are meant to be shared with people all around the world. It’s food! Have some!

Here are three Chanukah-worthy recipes: Jelly donut puffs, latkes, and noodle kugel.

Last year, I made jelly donuts (sufganiyot) using this King Arthur Flour recipe, which doesn’t use yeast. They describe it as “light doughnuts with a crisp exterior and wonderfully tender, creamy interior,” and that’s accurate. It’s a simple recipe and it went great except for the part where you get the jelly inside the donuts. I made a complete hash out of this part, and got jelly and sugar everywhere.

Nobody complained, mind you; but nevertheless, this year, I opted to buy a giant tub of jelly munchkins at Dunkin’ Donuts instead, and again, nobody complained. (They actually do come in a tub.)

Jelly donuts are a traditional Hanukkah food because they’re cooked in oil, which is a feature of the Hanukkah story. The jelly part signifies that jelly is delicious. 

I also intend to make (or possibly stand back while someone else makes) a ton of potato latkes. I don’t go for a lot of add-ins with latkes, although there are a million crazy varieties.

The secret is to let the shredded potato drain in a colander for a while, and then squeeze the heck out it before you mix it into the batter, so it isn’t too soggy when you fry the latkes. You want a crisp outside and a yielding, mealy center. I like mine with a little sour cream and apple sauce. Here’s the recipe:

Potato latkes

Serve with sour cream and/or apple sauce for Hanukkah or ANY TIME. Makes about 25+ latkes

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs potatoes, peeled
  • 6 eggs beaten
  • 6 Tbsp flour (substitute matzoh meal for Passover)
  • salt and pepper
  • oil for frying

Instructions

  1. Grate the potatoes. Let them sit in a colander for a while, if you can, and squeeze out as much liquid as possible. 

  2. Mix together the eggs, salt and pepper, and flour. Stir into the potato mixture and mix well. 

  3. Turn the oven on to 350 and put a paper-lined pan in the oven to receive the latkes and keep them warm while you're frying. 

  4. Put 1/4 to 1/2 and inch of oil in your frying pan and heat it up until a drop of batter will bubble.  

  5. Take a handful of the potato mixture, flatten it slightly, and lay it in the pan, leaving room between latkes. Repeat with the rest of the mixture, making several batches to leave room in between latkes. Fry until golden brown on both sides, turning once. Eat right away or keep warm in oven, but not too long. 

  6. Serve with sour cream and/or applesauce or apple slices. 

This year, the last night of Chanukah is a Friday, so for a meatless meal, I’m going to make latkes and a cozy little noodle kugel.  Kugel, with a “u” like in “put,” is a sort of baked pudding, and it is not a dish of subtlety or sophistication. It is a dish of egg noodles and sweet cheese and plump little raisins, and you serve it in steaming wedges. Here’s a recipe that resembles the one my mother used to use. My mother was not a great cook, but her kugels were hearty and comforting. I may add in some apple bits and maybe soak the raisins in something interesting. 

Here’s a Wikipedia photo, since I haven’t made mine yet:

Stuart Spivack, CC BY-SA 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Some kugels are savory, with onions and vegetables, rather than sweet. Apparently it’s more common for Litvak-style kugel to be savory, rather than sweet; but more common for sweet kugel to be pronounced “kigel.” But my family, who were Litvaks, favored sweet kugel and pronounced “kugel.” Yet another thing I wish I could ask my parents about. My father keeps turning up in my dreams, and I generally say, “Hey, I thought you were dead!” and he just wiggles his eyebrows at me, so that’s no help. You know, I think eating kugel will help. 

What’s for supper? Vol. 120: TeamDonutEyes

Oh, what a week. Let’s talk about food.

SATURDAY
Pork ramen

Still not tired of it. Kyra (you know Kyra) reminded me about Chinese five spice, so I dusted some boneless chops with it and sauteed them in olive oil. Succulent and delicious.

Big pot of ramen noodles with your choice of sliced pork, soft boiled eggs, frozen stir fry veggies, chopped scallions, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and hot sauce. So cheap, fast, and delicious.

SUNDAY
“Greek nachos,” birthday cake

Corrie’s birthday!

 

Yep, we bought one of those helium tanks from Walmart. It comes with 30 balloons and ribbon, and, well . . .

The “Greek nachos” recipe is from Damn Delicious. It wasn’t as outrageously delicious as I remember, but the kids all loved it, and it was very pretty and satisfying. Lots of prep work, though. LOTS.

Basically you make homemade pita chips (these are the best part of the meal). Cut pita into triangles, drizzle them with olive oil, and add a little salt, then bake them. On top of these, you have pieces of grilled chicken, olives, feta cheese, cucumbers, red onion, fresh herbs, and roasted red peppers. And of course tzatziki sauce. Full fat Greek yogurt is my middle name.

I decided to roast my own peppers, for some reason. It wasn’t hard, but I don’t think they tasted any better than the jarred ones. Cheaper, anyway. I used Ina Garten’s directions.  You preheat the oven to 500, put them peppers on a pan, and roast them for 35 minutes or so, until they’re all wrinkly and a little charred. I forgot to turn them. I lost the pic I took, but they were pretty ghastly, very alien autopsy.

Then you let them cool a bit. The stem and seeds come off pretty easily, and you can pull the skin right off, which is fun. The peppers make juice while roasting, so you put that in with the skinned pepper flesh and add some olive oil, and there you are.

Corrie wanted a rainbow cake, and she and Benny decorated it together with Skittles.

MONDAY
Pork and peanut dragon noodles, garlicky string beans

New recipe! Only a few of the kids liked it, but Damien and I thought it was fantastic. This is from Budget Bytes. So easy and cheap. The sauce has just three ingredients.

You brown up the pork, add the sauce and chopped peanuts, and simmer it while you’re cooking some ramen noodles. Then put it all together. That’s it!  Very savory and peppy, with a great texture from the peanuts. I don’t usually like peanuts in meat dishes, but this combination of flavors was perfect. I made a quadruple recipe, with two pounds of pork.

It calls for chili garlic sauce. All I had was sambal oelek, for some reason, which is marinated crushed pepper paste. It seemed fairly strong, if sweet, so I used about half of what the recipe called for, and it was great.

We couldn’t not have garlic, so I heated up some olive oil and browned up a tablespoon or so of minced garlic, then added a few pounds of trimmed string beans and some sesame oil. Then I just kept it moving in the hot pan until the string beans were a little charred. Tons of flavor, and nicely crunchy.

TUESDAY
Quesdillas, corn chips

I added leftover scallions to mine.

The children insist on pronouncing it “quassa-dillllas.” They also say “GWACK-a-mole,” to rhyme with “whack-a-mole.” They do this because they are savages, savages, barely even human.

WEDNESDAY
Egg in toast?

I forget. We made homemade bagels, which I intended as dinner, but the day got away from me.
I used this recipe from King Arthur Flour, appreciating the detail that if you’re using a mixer, the dough “will ‘thwap’ the sides of the bowl.” I couldn’t find my dough hook, so there was somewhat less thwapping, sadly, but it’s very stiff dough.

I also didn’t have as much yeast as I thought, so I was only able to make a double recipe, or 16 bagels.

They turned out . . . okay. With bagels, you make the dough, let it rise, make the dough into balls, let them rise, poke holes, boil them, add toppings, and then bake them. The main problem was that I was yakking with another mom the whole time, and made the grievous mistake of using 1-1/2 cups of water for the water bath. That’s the amount of water that goes into the dough; the water bath is supposed to be two quarts.

Here you can see me in the act of thinking, “Something ain’t right here . . . ”

This is the same kind of thinking that led me, in 7th grade Home Ec class, to read the directions to take the two skirt panels and sew the side together, and to conclude that I ought to I sew both sides of one panel together, and then sew both sides of the other panel together. Rather than sewing . . . you know, let’s just move along.  Poor Mrs. Dakin.

In my defense, look at my kitchen. Look at it! It’s ridiculous. Although I did buy a hutch yesterday, and that tangle of cords is soon going to be moved away from the stove, so people can stop accidentally charging their phones in the toaster.

So, the poor bagels had to splash around in a little kiddie pool of a water bath, rather than being dunked into the deep end. Also, the sugar-to-water ratio was way off, so they were quite sweet. Here is how they looked after their water bath, before baking:

They still would have been all right, except that I burned half of them. OH WELL. They did all get eaten! I made eight sesame, four poppy seed, and four kosher salt.

And we had a pretty good time. Some of us had a very very good time.

THURSDAY
FISHERS DINE OUT!

Vacation’s almost over, so we went to the local children’s museum, which I love. It’s quite low-tech, and very lovingly designed by someone who really understands kids. There is also a pretend dentist section with a really comfortable dentist chair just the right size for a tired mother and her cell phone.

By the way, I am solidly #teamdonuteyes

Corrie did quite well, and only flipped out once, in the dress-up section, where she literally had to share the stage with another toddler, and she didn’t want to.

Then we went out for pizza. It was early, so I thought it would be empty, but it was jam-packed.  This is just a casual pizza joint, not a place that takes reservations. There’s not really any room for waiting for a table, so it was very awkward.

Then the manager came over, beamed at everyone, gave the kids enormous homemade cookies to ease the wait, and made sure we knew he had a table in mind for us, and would seat us as soon as possible. They made us feel like they were glad we were there.

Waitresses and hostesses, please be more like this to big families, if you can.  Act welcoming, just like you would for any customer. I know it’s stressful to have a large party, but most big families don’t go out very often. Please don’t make us feel like we’re nothing but a hassle for you, even if that’s what we are. It meant so much to me to feel like a normal, valued customer instead of a problem. We went to a different restaurant for Mardi Gras, and I felt like they couldn’t wait to get us out of there.

I also ordered one of the pizzas half anchovy, because that’s how mothers get leftovers for once.

FRIDAY
Grilled cheese, salad, chips

Damien and I were supposed to whisk ourselves away to NH’s tiny little bit of coast for the night, but of course it’s March, and so we must have a nor’easter with flooding and catastrophic winds predicted. And so we change our plans, tra la la.